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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ware Police Department Enters into Agreement to Guarantee Effective Communication for Hearing Impaired

BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into an agreement today with the Ware Police Department resolving a complaint that the Department lacked effective means to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“Equal access to justice requires that law enforcement be able to effectively communicate with all arrestees, witnesses, and victims to ensure they understand their rights,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.  “Through their cooperation and commitment to implementing this agreement, the Ware Police Department is taking a critical step in effecting these necessary changes.”

The agreement requires the Ware Police Department to contract with a qualified sign language interpreting agency and provide sign language interpreters to arrestees, detainees, suspects, victims, witnesses, complainants, and visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing.  The agreement also requires the Ware Police Department to establish nondiscriminatory policies and to train all officers on communication with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

This complaint arose under the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires the Ware Police Department, as a public entity, to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities. 

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Leung of Ortiz’s Civil Rights Enforcement Team and Kevin O’Regan, Chief of the Springfield Branch Office.

Updated April 28, 2015